As a designer based in L.A, how do you think the S.F. fashion scene compares?
"I think that in L.A., we're a little bit more laid back. I think San Francisco is a little bit more of a city, so people here are a little bit more dressed up. But, I think that style is innate...you could be in Dubai and have the same style as you would in L.A."
What are the perks of being based in California rather than New York?
"Oh my god, weather! It is amazing in L.A., it has the longest days, and it's so inspirational and cool. New York is also inspirational, but they are completely different cities. I think what I love about L.A. is having the space to have a large design room, and not being crammed into small areas. In New York, there is no space. It's like everybody is on top of each other! To have that space and to have that luxury is truly amazing."
Does California inspire your designs at all?
"Of course! If you think about it, 80% of all the fashion actually comes from California, not New York. New York just seems like it has more because of the shows and everything — they are more known for it. If you think about it, when you look at New York design, rarely do you see color. There’s lots of texture and other things, but not color. California is really where all the color comes to fashion."
S.F. is known for being a techie city. Do you use technology when creating fashion?
"Constantly. My favorite app right now is iAnnotate — I annotate everything. Before, we used to spend time going to the library or scanning magazines. Now, it's amazing, we have archives! The first thing I do when I wake up is check my emails. I'm looking through different material on my phone for inspiration. I also take pictures of everything, so that the next day I can also review and analyze. A lot of the graphics and prints are done on the computer. Most of the sweaters are digitized on a computer, too. So, technology is everything."
What do you think of Google Glasses?
"I think it's amazing. Can you imagine, you can record everything! We are looking right now at [AAU student] portfolios, and I want to record them so I can remember them. When you get to the tenth person, you really can't remember anymore, your brain doesn't absorb that much information. If I had the Google Glasses, it would be fantastic — there is so many uses for it."
What are your Bay Area plans while you're here?
"Tomorrow, we are going to Napa for the Bottle Rock festival. I'm really excited — I love music, people, and great wine."
Are there any certain acts that you really want to see there?
"There is so many! The Alabama Shakes, the Black Keys, the Wallflowers, and the Kings of Leon. I picked the list, I actually listened to all of them. We have a very tight schedule."
Your Fall ’13 collection seemed inspired by streetwear, so do you think that fashion trickles up or down?
"Both, I think that designers are influenced by streetwear. We love the way young generations are unconventional in their clothes. We are inspired by them, and think young people look at designers and become inspired. So, it all goes around, it’s like a circle. When you buy a brand, you buy into their taste level. So it’s your association."
As a married couple, how would you describe your work relationship with Max?
"Max is global, and I'm very detail-oriented, so we actually compliment each other. He thinks in terms of big ideas. So, he thinks like, ‘Next year, we are going to go into Japan and open 12 stores,’ and I have to go, ‘Okay, hold on a second, let’s go backward, let's see how we can plan this.’ I focus on design, marketing, public relations, and the visuals — everything else besides business."
Your designs tend to be really sexy and bold, is that how you want women to feel in your clothes?
"I hope women are feeling sexy, because the clothes won't make them sexy unless they feel that way. I think it's all about the attitude. I design for a woman who loves clothes, who loves fashion, and is not afraid it."
What celebrity would you like to dress that you haven't yet?
"Emma Watson, I think she is cool. I like androgynous women who aren't afraid to shock people. Singers and musicians are really fun to dress, too, because they really take chances, like Beyonce, Alicia Keys, and Florence Welch."
Switching gears a bit, how important is it for you to be here and to talk to the students of AAU?
"It's amazing. I've always known about the university, and it's been truly an incredibly inspirational experience. BCBG is successful at what we do, so it's great to mentor students."
What advice do you have for them?
"Follow your dreams and never give up, no matter what. Stay true, learn, be open-minded, and have a great follow-through. Remember, it’s not about you at the end of the day. Fashion is a service — you are serving the customer. Always understand that."
What's next for BCBG and Max Azria?
"Next year is going to be 25 years of BCBG! We are one of the few companies that are privately owned and it's a huge, huge success. So, we want to celebrate that with our customers, and we want to celebrate them making us successful."
Photo: Courtesy of Maia Harms